How to reduce failure demand?

December 8, 2022 | Business Improvement, Operational Excellence, Workforce Management

failure demand

What is failure demand? It’s relatively simple; it’s the demand caused by failing to deliver the right service to customers which match their expectations.  I’m carefully saying the customer’s expectations, not just our internal ones as in some cases these may vary wildly and that too is a failure on our behalf as well, by not clearly setting service expectations.

Traditional failure demand is related to manufacturing and the need for rework, rework itself being spotted by either the Quality Control systems in the organisation, or the customer simply sending goods back, or complaining about the quality of service, or not receiving the service they expected. However, in the service industry there are many possible causes of failure demand, let’s look at some of the ones we have encountered and tackled successfully with OPX our solution for getting the right work to the right person at the right time.

Failing Quality Control, Open and Closed Quality Control systems

Failures in quality are best caught and handled before the service or goods are delivered to the customer as this is both beneficial cost-wise and also the organisation’s reputation with the customer. But how do we reduce the failures? In OPX we have the ability to enable quality control checks before a service is delivered, as well as after the service has been delivered, we call this Open and Closed QC.  The QC solution is configured to prompt the quality checker with questions very specific to the customer, service or product, as well as more general questions relating to company standards, this allows the system and the users to derive the root causes of quality issues and then put in place new mitigations to avoid repeatedly causing this failure demand such as changing the process, changing service level expectations, retraining teams or individuals etc. OPX also allows for tricky services for our customers to create bottled knowledge from your Subject Matter Experts which is added to our Scripflow system, Scriptlfow is effectively a business scenario wizard guiding the administrator through a series of questions and paths to answer the customer request with the correct answers, ensuring compliance and dramatically reducing failure demand whilst increasing the capacity to handle these tricky activities.  Last but not least you can create checklists, checklists allow you to help ensure process and procedural adherence by having all, some or just trainee users answer a series of questions before completing the work as an aide memoir to the standard operating procedures being followed.

Failing to set customer SLA expectations upfront

There can sometimes be a miss match between the customer’s perspective of a service level and the organisations. For example, we may think a service level for say changing a customer address would be 5 days and the customer’s view instantaneous.  As demand for services changes during the year, or even week to week or hour to hour  OPX can help adjust real-time to demand variation and automatically allocate work to aim for the very best service adherence given the resources available right now to handle this demand.  OPX Capacity Planning can show the seasonal, or non-seasonal trend analysis as well as allocate resources down to individuals to handle the projected demand. Handling in real-time definitely gives customers the best experience. As they say in the military, no plan survives the first contact with the enemy and this is true when the demand is variable for some or all your services. Of course, failing to plan is planning to fail so we don’t advocate not having capacity plans, but on the day you need real-time work allocation. OPX can also be configured to predict and publish the expected delivery time of service, where our customers tell their customers when a service the date of delivery of a service request given their real-time resources and projected resources for the next few days – why? because this stops the customer putting unnesessary pressure on the contact centre calling and asking when their service request will be completed, especially when the service level is in days or weeks.

Failing to escalate tardy service requests in line with expectations

Unless you have a computer system like OPX do it for you, it’s not easy to keep track of every case all the time. There are many reasons why a service request may start to lag behind others, from a lack of resources to complexities when service queues are not just “first in first out” but priority driven by factors like the value of the customer, or value of the deal. OPX allows for automated escalation of cases where they are falling behind to ensure they get a chance of having resources to complete the work, this is also often used to chase customers who have not yet replied to a request for more information as often a slippage in an SLA goal can be attributable to needing to chase the customers for more details about their request.

Failing to keep the customer informed about the progress

In a similar approach to telling the customer about the expected delivery of their service, it’s also often a good idea to tell them about progress so they know they are in the pipeline of delivery and again don’t create failure demand, this time the failure on the progress of their request handling. In OPX a service is delivered by one or more business processes and at each stage you can define if you want to send a communication out from OPX with a status update, usually using OPX Document Production module to create letters, emails or SMS correspondence, whichever fits best.

Missing and poor-quality data on which a service depends.

Sometimes the data we have on the customer, product or service request is just not all there, missing details in the back-end systems can cause lots of delays, but how could OPX help with this?  OPX has a rules engine and it has been used to run quality checks on back-end systems where the rule identifies the minimum data required in the core system for a service to work effectively and then when data is missing, report this out. These reports can then create work in  OPX, either for sending letters or email out to ask for the missing information ahead of time, or having outbound calls scheduled in call centre quiet time to gather the missing information before it’s needed. OPX also records all variations in the straight-through ideal process, so having to prompt or wait for missing data is recorded in each and every case and so an easy-to-see pattern can identify where this is a root cause of failure demand.

Failure in training, or active skills levels of the employees

Another cause of failure demand is simply the training, or the skill levels of the employees handling the work. This can be seen after a quality control solution highlights the errors at a process, activity, team or individual level. Sohow can we help reduce this? OPX keeps track at a granular level of the skills a person has, not just by service and process, but by customer or product variation and against these skills their levels of competency. Unused skills can quickly fade and so OPX will report to Team Leaders their team’s skills usage and the Team Leader can then ensure more similar cases are handled to keep the training fresh and in use.  If some services or products are rarely processed, then as mentioned before we can Script the process handling step into Business Wizards and add in Checklist features to guide the user through these rare cases.  OPX also handles capacity planning at these granular levels and so helps ensure the right skills are known about, and kept in the teams in the organisational structure.

Failure to track Service Levels at both a high, and a granular level

Some failure is caused by just not having the right management information to work on at the right time. OPX Operational Insight dashboards provide real-time visualisations of your key metrics as well as historic and future analytics and capacity planning.  Most organisations have a backlog of work as well as a constant stream of new work and it’s often hard to see where there is under-capacity and over-capacity in real time. OPX generates this information allowing resources to be reallocated temporarily across teams based on their skills, rather than location and helping maximise utilisation and hence service fulfilment. OPX also allows you to see any service, case, policy or customer-level granularities over and above service-level queues allowing you to track the oldest cases and see the full customer journey experience of this service request.

So the proof is in the pudding and our customers have seen by reducing failure demand and providing Operational Insight

  • Complaints were reduced by  70%
  • Increase in getting things right first time by 12%
  • SLA breaches are down by 62%

all while

  • Increasing the transactions per FTE by 35%+ and
  • Reducing operational costs by over 30%
  • Reducing the stress in operational teams

If you would like more information, a demo of how OPX can help your organisation then just a chat contact us at  +44 (0) 141 945 2168 or email at [email protected]

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